Review: File As Worthwhile—David Duchovny Makes a Decent Gesture

David Duchovny/Gestureland/ GMG/Westbound Kyd
Three out of Five Stars

Actors are generally viewed with some skepticism when they choose to make music and ask to be taken seriously in that regard. That’s not necessarily so when it comes to musicians who opt to make movies. Nevertheless, it’s become more and more common for those in the movie biz to release records and find due acceptance in the process. It’s an indication that the old stereotypes are slowly decreasing and that a transition is taking their place.

Not all are successful of course. Joe Pesci, Leonard Nimoy, Bruce Willis, and Eddie Murphy made albums that are forgettable at best, relegated to the ranks of novelties that quickly made their way to the proverbial bargain bin. On the other hand, Jeff Bridges, Steve Martin, John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd (as the Blues Brothers), Jack Black, Zooey Deschanel, and Kevin Bacon have proven that it is possible to work at both professions and emerge with credibility intact.

With three albums to his name, David Duchovny is clearly intent on doing the same. And while some may scoff at the notion of an actor intimately identified with such blockbuster TV series as the X-Files and Californication attempting to bring his musical abilities to the fore, his new release, Gestureland, shows that he’s worthy of consideration. After all, the man has no shortage of ambition, having also been responsible for some best-selling books. Chances are, if Duchovny’s name wasn’t on the cover, any skepticism would be allayed.

That said, like the emotions that seem to preoccupy the characters he portrays, there’s an undercurrent of worry and concern shared in several of the songs. Duchovny himself cites today’s despair and divide as central themes.  So too, there’s an unmistakable sense of gravitas pervading such selections as “Nights Are Harder These Days,” “Mind of Winter”  and “Holding Patterns,” all of which provide a pointed perspective. 

Happily then, Duchovny possesses a serviceable singing voice as well as a capable backing band, consisting of Colin Lee (keys) Pat McCusker (guitars, synths) Mitchell Stewart (bass), Keenan O’Meara (guitars), and Davis Rowan (drums). With Duchovny contributing vocals and lyrics, his musicians effectively mine the melodies and offer the emphasis they deserve. That strategy works well on the pulsating “Everything Is Noise,” the soothing sound of “Tessera,” the deliberately paced “Stay Until,” and the driving rhythms that power “Laying on the Tracks,” all of which are among the best tracks the album has to offer.

Ultimately, Gestureland is a quality effort, one well worth a listen and several revisits after that. With a sound that comes across as weathered but resolute, it’s dutifully distinctive.


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